Category Archives: Uncategorized

Exams and Revision

After months of preparation, my AS exams finally finished yesterday and it’s safe to say a feel a little more free! In light of this, I thought I’d share some of the resources I made when revising, as they could be of use for others! For guidance I am studying OCR A chemistry and AQA biology, so any notes are based on the textbook and specification for these courses, though I’m sure much of it applies to others too.

Chemistry Summary sheets:

Atoms:ions PDF

Halogens and G2 Metals PDF

PHYSICAL CHEM NOTES PDF

quantitative analysis PDF

Reactions 1 PDF

Reactions 2 PDF

Biology Summary Sheets 

Cell structure summary PDF I

MMUNITY SUMMARY PDF

PLANT TRANSPORT PDF

Exam season is a long and stressful one, but I am glad that I kept up my volunteering right up until we went on study leave (3 days before my first exam) as this gave me a good break, doing something I really enjoy. I know many people are not sitting AS exams this year, so this is a tip I would take forward onto next year – having some time away from revision is (in small doses) a good idea – for me it was my volunteering, and then once on study leave going to the gym. While I didn’t feel any of my exams went overly well, I know that I worked hard for them and so the grades I get will be the best I can, and if I’m honest I’m excited to forget about them until August!

While this post didn’t have much purpose, I just wanted to keep you in the loop with what I’m doing, as throughout the year priorities definitely change. Good luck to anyone still sitting exams! You’ll do great 🙂

Marie Curie

Recently, as I’ve walked through my town and through London, I’ve seen several people selling yellow daffodils – a symbol for the Marie Curie charity. I thought I’d take a look at what it is they do, the support they provide and how such a phenomenal charity has influenced lives.

The Marie Curie charity logo.
The Marie Curie charity logo.

Marie Curie is a charity which is committed to providing care to everyone based on need, without taking into account their diagnosis [1]. They pride themselves in helping terminally ill people stay at home until the end of their lives, making the process more comfortable for many. They work with hospices, charities and the NHS, reducing the need for emergency hospitalisation and while most importantly benefitting people, they also help to cut hospital costs [1].

The research which Marie Curie undertakes focuses on finding the best ways possible of caring for terminally ill people, and improving their quality of life. This is a goal proven to be increasingly achieved as 99% of patients rated their overall experience as good or very good and 96% said they were involved by the staff as much as they wanted in decisions about their care [1].

Charities such as Marie Curie are so important in caring for terminally ill people, and relieving the NHS of some demand. When one of my best friends mum was being treated for cancer, she had a Macmillan nurse and I know that she supported them all through the process. It is integral to remember that these charities run on donations, and the care they can provide depends on the money donated. Without these funds they cannot function, so it is not enough to just admire a charities work, but important to support it too. They are great for offering help to everyone possible, regardless of age, income, or any other factor. While before I have realised how important these charities are in providing care for many terminally ill people, I did not previously consider the benefits provided to our healthcare system. Next time you see a donation box, please be sure to spare your loose change.

[1] https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/who/our-history [accessed on 12/03/17]

Delays in the NHS

Today, I read a rather shocking article by the BBC, entitled ‘The 10 Longest Hospital delays exposed’. The NHS is obviously a system which needs revamping, reorganising and millions of pounds invested in it to help it run. However, I found this article a very negative approach to what is happening. While yes, there is a chronic bed shortage and hospitals are overrun, there are still millions of people being treated each day.

The article does however, highlight again what I became aware of after watching the BBC documentary ‘Hospital’. This being, that many patients are occupying a bed in a hospital when waiting for a place in a care home, cottage hospital or specialised clinic. Consequently hospitals are ‘filling up’ as patients keep being admitted each day, but few being discharged. The links between these healthcare services are shown to be fractured, as sometimes communication between clinics, hospitals and care homes is not as frequent as necessary.

Aside from this however, the article does present key issues in the NHS. The greatest rise reported being 449 in a mid Yorkshire hospital. The graph clearly shows that the number of patients who see themselves as ‘stranded’ in hospital with nowhere to go for care when discharged, is on the rise, as has been clearly on the rise since 2014, and doubling the number of patients delayed in 2016 compared to that 2010.

For me, this highlights that many older patients who require access to care packages, including nursing home places and help in the home for daily tasks, such as washing and dressing, aren’t receiving this help. Quite possibly in the time that it takes for these links to be made, lives could be saved if other patients had access to these beds. The article also states that ‘Over the past four years, the number of older people getting help from councils has fallen by quarter, while the NHS district nursing workforce has shrunk by 29% in the past five years.’ To me, this screams lack of funding, and is an example of how cutting funding of the NHS has caused a cut in services, which has hindered the functioning of not only hospitals.   Aside from this, its is incredibly important to remember that these elderly people should also have dignity, and lives as independent and healthy as possible – this is not just being confined to a bed in hospital, unstimulated.

Restoring faith however, the article does mention that councils will be spending £16 billion this year on social care. This should help to reinstate the links between the services provided and provide those who should not be in hospital with adequate care elsewhere, and those who need hospital care access to that. Initially, this article sparked my anger, because I believe that the NHS is an incredible service which saves millions of lives, and to pick out the negatives is not necessarily representative. However, I am not naive enough to think that it is without its problems, but a system which deser

ves saving. Thank you for reading 🙂

This is the link to the BBC article…

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-38896155

Travel and Disease

This blog post is mainly allowing me to put together ideas and research I have found, and to make sure I understand the concepts I will be talking about tomorrow at my schools Biology Discussion Group (BDG) however I thought it was an interesting topic. The biology discussion group from my school meets fortnightly to discuss scientific and ethical topics. In preparation for our session tomorrow, I have been reading up on ‘travel and disease’ which is this weeks topic. I can’t say it’s something I had given much thought to before trying to find some articles to read for this weeks discussion, however, the way epidemics are now predicted is somewhat fascinating.

I always believed that diseases spread from country to country through an infected person jumping on an aeroplane, train or bus to go on holiday. Thus, I thought that if you wanted to predict the spread of a disease, you would look at how many people from one country travelled to another, and how many of those individuals were likely to be infected. Take the Zika Virus, if lots of people were to travel to Rio for the olympics, I would have thought it would spread quickly as each athlete or spectator returned home potentially carrying the disease. I have found however, that it is much more than this.

How quickly a disease can spread depends on two factors – population distribution and human-mobility networks [1]. Thus in a sense, I guess my initial theories were half right. How easy it is for a person to move from place to place is a factor. Consequently, it is not if one person travels from one country to another, but how many people they meet along the way. If an infected person walks into a shop, you then have to consider how busy the shop is likely to be at that time, and how many people the shopkeeper is likely to encounter between the time of infection and the time at which they are potentially unable to work anymore (say at diagnosis). Similarly, if an infected person sneezes on a £10 note and that therefore becomes infected, how many people are likely to encounter that note until it is no longer infectious? The contact goes on and on.

Here are some key points to consider when modelling epidemics:

  • Modern pandemics spread more quickly and less uniformly than those in the past e.g. The Plague. Why? Due to the global air transportation network and and the complex, integrated nature of much of our society.
  • To model the spread of an infectious disease, you must take into account the biological and physical principles alongside social and behavioural factors.

Therefore, what the spread of disease comes down to is actually very minimally air time, but in fact human behaviour. If you know what a population is likely to do, i.e. how many different people may encounter another in a day, the spread of disease is much easier to predict. The more research into human behaviour there is, the more likely it is that we are able to predict the spread of disease accurately [1].

Similarly, a disease is not going to spread across the entire world or even Europe, at the same rate. It may spread between certain cities or countries quickly due to large amounts of human mobility networks and an interactive society. Yet for others, there may be very little contact between two cities and very few people may move from one to the other, meaning that disease would likely spread at a very slow rate.  So, this theory doesn’t work unless we move from analysing small social groups in individual towns or cities, to analysing social aggregate states made up of millions of people [1] – in order to gain a mean activity.

The problems we face with this is that people’s lives are essentially non-conformal. Not everyone does the same thing every day, and each person has their own agenda. As a result of this, standard deviations (the spread of data) are typically extremely large, and there are no typical values for many of the quantities – e.g. the amount of times a person eats out a week.

Consequently, predicting epidemics is no easy feat. There are so many factors to include that it is very rare we will be able to pinpoint the exact spread of a disease. Having said that, techniques allowed scientists to predict the peak in the swine flu pandemic in the USA between late October and November 2009. Whats to learn from this? That the spread of disease is largely due to human behaviour, and that in understanding more of human behaviour we could open many doors to new methods of predicting pandemics and epidemics.

[1] The Flu Fighters – Physics World  – as of February 2010

I will link the podcast to this BDG session here once it has been edited 🙂

http://wgsbdg.podbean.com/e/travel-infectious-disease/ 

Hospital

I sat down last night to watch the new BBC documentary ‘Hospital’ purely because I thought I would find it interesting, and it would give me a small insight into hospital life. However, it did much more than that, it confirmed the research and evidence I had heard in the news, and put into perspective the harsh realities of medicine.

Without going into too much detail, as I will leave a link to the first part of the series below, it is based at the Queen Mary hospital in London – one of the five affiliated to Imperial College London. The hour orientated primarily around two cancer patients who both required operations and a lady who had ruptured her aorta, travelling to the hospital from Norwich. Although, the main focus of the documentary was the chronic bed shortage the hospital was experiencing, a ‘code red’.

It became increasingly apparent to me that the wait to know if either of the cancer operations would be allowed to go ahead, was entirely due to the uncertainty of a bed being available for them to recover in. A seeming waste of anaesthetists, surgeons, nurses and theatres, all unused due to the bed shortage. Many scheduled operations had to be cancelled due to the hospital not knowing how many trauma patients would need ICU beds, as the brutality of the fact that doing the best for the hospital was not the best for every patient was clear. For instance, one of the cancer patients with oesophagus cancer, had already had his operation cancelled previously for the same reason, and it was cancelled again on the Monday of this week, but in doing so a bed was freed for the lady with the ruptured aorta. While luckily the operation was able to take place on the Tuesday, the prospects of having to operate in a specific window after chemotherapy for the best results, and the reoccured cancellation was obviously a serous worry for the patient.

This leads on to not only the medical issues caused by the bed shortage, such as the cancellation of operations, but moral implications. Patients need to retain their dignity in hospitals, and have enough privacy while recovering, but when operating at or over full capacity, this is hardly possible. The hours the surgeons spent presenting their cases for why their patient needed their operation and a bed were endless, while irritating for the surgeons themselves, this clearly showed that their patients were at the forefront of their mind, and they were their priority – restoring my hope and faith in the hospital environment.

So what did I learn from this documentary? What I expected to be some interesting cases and miraculous recoveries turned out to be a stark reminder of the harshness of medicine. It supported what I had previously heard about hospitals being overrun, but also the obvious desire of medical professionals to do what is right by their patients. It showed that tough decisions are having to be made everyday, and none of which are easy when they can influence peoples lives so dramatically.

 

This is the documentary link – http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b088rp75/hospital-episode-1 it was a really insightful watch and I would definitely recommend it as an eye-opener.

Hello world!

Welcome to my blog!

My name’s Eden and I am planning to use this blog to document my premed experiences, and the journey I take towards being a doctor. Hopefully, this will be a useful source for anyone else considering medicine, and an opportunity for me to document and reflect on my experiences.

I have just returned from an exhausting two days in Nottingham on the Medlink course – exhausting, but the most inspiring and useful course I’ve attended! With tips on applying to medical school I would 100% recommend it to any L6/year 12 student who aspires to be a doctor, not only because of its content but the incredible opportunity to talk to likeminded individuals across the country, and learn about their experiences.

As for a bit of information about me, I am 17 and studying biology, chemistry, maths and history at A-Level in Cambridgeshire. The decision to apply for medicine is not one I’ve made quickly and has taken me a lot of thought, but I really feel like it is the course, and career that suits my personality and caring nature. I am a huge ‘people person’ and love engaging with new people from all walks of life. As for my current work experience, I volunteer at a dementia day centre once a week, but also teach disabled children (alongside other adults and children) to sail.

I hope that at least someone finds this blog useful or interesting, and I’m super excited for whats to come.